Diving In & Measuring Up

On a whim last week, I decided to sign up for the Writing 101 course. For twenty straight days, I will be encourage to write based on a number of prompts provided by the course. Smartest thing for me to do as I adjust to my new schedule? Probably not. But I’m up for a challenge.

Today marks the first day of the challenge. The assignment? Free write for twenty minutes. Unedited, stream of consciousness writing, scribbled across a mess of papers (well, on the screen, I guess). Apologies in advance for whatever rambling this turns out to be. Here goes nothing!  Writing 101

I’ve never been one for jumping in. When I was little, I’d wade into the pool toe by toe in order to avoid the cold water that awaited me. I needed to warm up to the idea of changing states- going from the warm, dry sun to the chilliness of the water.

I dwell on things that comfort me. Stepping out of that zone? Yea, not really my thing.

Now that I’m older, little things like this continue to hold me back. Sometimes when I write, I throw it all out there; my feelings are on the screen for anyone to read. I have a brief moment of strength where I feel like my words are as strong as steel, that they are going to have an impact on someone else.

But rather than just continuing with that gut motion, I hesitate. It only takes a split-second for me to look back up at the page and realize that I’ve just gone way beyond my comfort zone to a place which I’m not really ready for people to have eyes on just yet.

I dove in, but only when no one was looking. I didn’t want them to see my bit of uneasiness as I adjusted to that change that just happened to me.

With this writing course, I’m hoping to move beyond that. I’m tired of sticking in this little box where I am cozy. I’m ready to take the next step- and that applies to many more things than my attempt at blogging.

Much of my uneasiness comes from being compared to others. Let’s bring it back to to those pool days again. I could float around in the water forever, happy as can be. But throw me in there and ask me to swim laps with someone? Count me out. I don’t want my skills to look so elementary compared to others.

The fear of measuring up goes hand in hand with my fear of diving in. What if I finally take the leap but it’s not good enough? What are people going to say? This follows me around all over the place, haunting my every move.

I’ve been working to combat this. A lot of the encouragement comes from my students at the dance studio. I continually ask them to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and really commit to the movement, even if they feel terribly uncomfortable. But how can I expect them to if I can’t myself?

These fears of mine are reinforced by walls that I’ve built over the years. I put up a strong face to show that I can measure up to the task, even if deep down, I have no idea what I’m doing.

We recently had a discussion at work where we were asked how we react to change. Do we remain solid as a rock, unchanged by the actions happening around us? Do we put up a hard shell, that takes over and makes us numb to transformations? Are we weakened by the constant onslaught of changes to a point where we are easily manipulated? Or do we diffuse the issue and allow it to alter ourselves to better the situation?

Far too often, I’m that third option. My walls give me a strong exterior, but break me down and you’ll see that they aren’t so tough. I coward behind my fears, finding any way around what scares me. Rather than face the conflict, I shy away and just quietly deal with it on my own. But when faced with too much of this, I get stuck in a funk. I change out of my bathing suit before I even dip one toe in the water.

I go through waves of inspiration that encourage me to change my ways, to be comfortable in my own skin and not worry about measuring up to my peers. I hold strong for a bit until something knocks me down again, but this time I’m hoping to make some real progress. Accepting the fact that things won’t always be comfy cozy is hard for me to do, but it’s beyond necessary in order for me to move forward.


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